U.S. Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, a Republican who represents Northwest Georgia, used a racial slur to refer to Asian Americans while describing the audience at Turning Point USA's national conference over the weekend.
Greene spoke Sunday during the second day of "AmericaFest," a four-day conservative conference in Phoenix, Arizona. During her speech, she praised the diversity of conference attendees.
"When I walked in yesterday, I was like, 'What kind of people come here?' So I'm walking around and seeing some good people, and I see white people, Black people, brown people, yellow people," Greene said. "And then there's talk of freedom and loving America and conservative principles, some crazy people in here were talking about how much they love this guy named Jesus. And I heard — someone I really like — I think I heard that a lot of people here like a guy named Donald J. Trump.
"And then I said, 'Oh, oh. I know exactly what this is. The left calls this a white supremacist party," she continued. "OK, OK. I know what I'm going to now."
Greene did not make any other reference to Asian Americans during her speech, and it is unclear if she knew the term is offensive, though it has a long and documented history as a racist term.
Over the past two years, there has been a rise in hate crime against Asian Americans. Between March 19, 2020, and Dec. 31, 2020, Stop AAPI Hate, the nation's leading coalition documenting and addressing anti-Asian hate and discrimination amid the COVID-19 pandemic, received more than 2,808 firsthand accounts of anti-Asian hate from 47 states and the District of Columbia.
According to a study by the Anti-Defamation League, Asian Americans also reported a significant uptick in online harassment in comparison to other groups, with 17% of survey respondents reporting it this year compared to 11% last year.
Many took to social media Monday to share their opinions about Greene's statement, including activist Nathan Schneider, who tweeted, "Referring to Asian Americans as 'yellow people' definitely isn't something a white supremacy cult would do."
George Takei, the "Star Trek" actor who has openly reflected on his experiences with racism against Asian Americans and campaigned against discrimination, tweeted as well.
"I honestly haven't heard someone use 'yellow people' for decades," he said. "Perhaps she meant 'yellow bellied people' because there are certainly lots in that crowd."
In October, Oklahoma state Sen. David Rader used the term "yellow families" to refer to Asian Americans while discussing a study focused on racial inequality with Oklahoma Policy Institute's Damion Shade.
At the time, Rader said he was attempting to use the same language used by Shade earlier in the conversation.
"You use black term, white term, brown term so I was just gonna jump in there with you," Rader said, according to reports.
The Times Free Press reached out to Greene's office for comment Monday and received no response.
Contact Kelcey Caulder at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6327. Follow her on Twitter @kelceycaulder.